Branding Day 2010

If you want to find out who your real neighbors and friends are, just put on a branding when the weather is at its worst and see who shows up.

Our neighbors were put to the test when we branded this past weekend despite 25 mph wind with gusts up to 40 mph and an early morning icy snow shower while saddling up horses and gathering cattle. We had a backup plan to keep calves dry in case it rained, but once we had a date set to brand we were committed. The reason being that this year’s branding was going to be different than the rest.

I had become fast friends with a reader who had been reading my column and emailed me about it. Several months ago she asked me about filming the process of cooking our branding dinner as part of a video series called, “What’s For Dinner America?” that she was putting together for an online magazine/cooking site that she was developing. The video series, when finished, will feature everyday cooks preparing a meal for others in unique ways that makes an interesting story about cooking. Our branding dinner was the second to be filmed for the series.

The proprietor of the site and the videographer had allowed the day after our branding to travel to their next destination, so we were committed. Come rain, wind or snow, we would brand.

The day before, the wind started to blow and gained momentum overnight. By Saturday morning intense blowing snow started off our big day and the wind blasted all day. Hearing the howling wind the night before had me worried about how many people we would get to show up. It was the worst branding day on record for us. Weather-wise, my husband couldn’t remember a branding day that was worse.

Originally, I anticipated forty people to show up but by the time we’d saddled up, only our closest neighbors had come and I began to fret that we’d be lucky if we had twenty people show. Fortunately by the time the sorting was done and I brought up warm rolls and coffee, we had a good crowd to do everything we needed people for.

The final number of people that turned-out (41) spoke volumes about our friends and neighbors. It was miserable weather to brand in but all the people that showed up wanted to be there. They all had the option of not coming and took the time to come down anyway. With the large crowd, the work went easier and faster, and the work was more enjoyable to the point where it seemed like more of a good time. No one complained about having to work in nasty weather; they were all there by choice and said that they had planned to be there regardless of the weather. Everyone went about the day as if it was a typical branding day; people stood around the back of the pickup talking, telling stories, joking around and discussing various topics when they weren’t busy.

Because of the cold and wind my plans to feed everyone in the front yard got moved indoors. Furniture and the living room carpet were covered with sheets and blankets; tables were set up, and chairs were set in every available space.

As the branding crew made their way through the grub line, my house began to fill up . It was a delightful sight to see so many friends and neighbors in our house all at once, enjoying my home-cooked branding day dinner together. It felt good knowing that we had friends and neighbors who would be there for us when they could’ve easily found something else to do.

What started out looking like a disastrous day, ended up being a perfect picture of good neighbors and was all captured on film.  The day turned out to be our worst day and best day for branding.

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